“What if we win it all?”
I’d entered a competition with a few friends of mine, and halfway through it seemed like we had a pretty good shot at taking it. I’d been trying to not ponder the question my buddy had just posed, as my heart was already up in my throat. But the second he let it out, I couldn’t help but spout forth. And spout forth. I couldn’t stop talking about what the possible outcomes were. Five minutes later, I finally took a deep breath, and he was laughing. Sometimes you just can’t help but crack those counterfactuals. Wonder, wonder, and wander. What. If.
If you’re a member of Nuggets Nation and have a pulse, you may have noticed that the team is not too bad right now. Not too shabby at all. Kind of special, in fact. Unless you just woke from a very long sleep, you’re probably well aware that your Denver Nuggets are off to their best start over 30 games since 1984. But their pathway there has been so surprising and improbable that it’s taken the first third of the season for most of the NBA’s fan base to buy in to the possibility that Denver might just be for real. Happily, the group least surprised by this early success are the Denver Nuggets team and staff themselves. With the amazing rags-to-riches tale that comprises the team’s last five seasons, here are a few what if’s I can’t help pondering about your first-place Denver Nuggets:
What if Isaiah Thomas had been healthy enough to start at backup point guard this season, and we’d not gotten to see much of should-have-been-a-rookie Monte Morris?
Sticking with the Joker for a second, what if Denver isn’t the lucky sifter of the golden nugget that is Jokic at the 41st pick, their third of the day?
What if the eventual outcome of the dreaded injuries to Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap actually results in an even stronger and deeper Denver Nuggets squad when it really counts without knocking them wildly out of the top half of the playoff race?
Speaking of depth, what if Thomas, Michael Porter, Jr., and Jarred Vanderbilt are all able to return to the court and play this season? Will the Nuggets petition the league to expand games to 72 minutes?
What if Jamal Murray actually continues the growth curve of a player his age and experience? (Hey, I didn’t say they’d all be improbable, only that people still seem surprised by this occurrence)
What if Jokic had gone from “will he be an All-Star?” to “is he a dark horse MVP candidate?” by game 30? Oh, wait...
What if the Nuggets had eight players averaging double digit scoring this season? (Juancho Hernangomez needs a 0.1 ppg lift to make this a reality)
What if the Nuggets had scored one more point in game 82 last season, and missed out on Porter, Jr.?
What if Denver keeps this win-loss pace up? (their current .700 pace gives them 57.4 wins on the year)
What if god was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a... second, I need to turn my stereo down.
What if Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks waited out his last season in Denver, and the team never receives any of the multitude of pieces that landed them here today?
What if the Denver Nuggets rolled the dice on an early contract extension for Michael Malone and he lands Coach of the Year honors in year one of the new deal?
What if Jokic is actually some sort of skeleton key for unlocking other NBA players? Wouldn’t that seem most valuable?
What if 85-90% of this team still has to realize their best basketball? (second-youngest team in the league)
What if Malik Beasley actually jumps through the glass someday?
Speaking of Murray, what if he ever gets within sniffing distance of 50 against the Celtics again? What would you be willing to stop doing to see that odometer turn over to 50?
What if Mason Plumlee is ALSO a point guard masquerading as a center?
What if the time for these Nuggets isn’t a few seasons away? Or, as an old friend said:
What if we win it all?
What if the Nuggets were to reach their best potential this season? Where does that land them?
This poll is closed
A nice regular season, but a first- or second-round exit
Deep into the playoffs
Winning it all
None of the above
*what are your what-ifs about this team, Nuggets Nation? Would love to read any you’d care to share below.